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Fri., Jan. 29, 2010, 3:41 p.m.

Honoring Japanese internees, Vietnam veterans

OLYMPIA -- Japanese-American students pulled out of college and sent to internment camps during World War II would be eligible for honorary degrees under a bill approved by a legislative committee.

Members of the South Vietnamese army who came to the United States after the Vietnam War would be honored for their service in a separate resolution.

The Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee approved a bill that allows the state's public universities to award honorary degrees to any student who was forced to leave college after the internment orders were signed in 1942. The University of Washington, which  had about 450 Japanese-American students at the time, granted honorary degrees to as many of those students as it could locate in 2008.

The committee passed the bill unanimously while supporters were there, which is outside the standard operating procedure that separates hearings from votes, sometimes by as much as a week.

The House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee did a similar thing with a bill that honors South Vietnamese veterans as well as American service members who served in the Vietnam War. An estimated 60,000 Vietnamese Americans currently live in Washington, many of them soldiers of the Republic of South Vietnam and their families who fled or immigrated after the war.

The memorial suggests the state and each county do things to to honor and bring together Vietnam veterans and South Vietnamese veterans.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.